Salmon farming operations in Tasmania's Macquarie Harbour, a major production area for Australia's biggest producers, could be halted amid a push to protect an endangered species of skate.

The harbor on Tasmania's west coast is home to 11 farms belonging to Cooke-owned Tassal, JBS-owned Huon and Sealord's Petuna. It is also the only place where the Maugean skate is found.

In a letter to Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff on Monday, Australia's Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek said she may have no choice but to temporarily halt farming operations.